Hillsong: Our Home away from Home

{The other 1/2 of that previous post’s excerpt}

Hillsong London has been the other surprise.

We love it. I mean, we knew the reputation that precedes it: awesome worship, solid theology. What we did not know was THE PEOPLE. Oh my goodness, the people. I cannot explain to you the full extent of my gratitude for their welcoming openness.

We filled out the requisite “Welcome Card” thinking it would be weeks before either of us heard anything. Nope. People had called us and set up coffee for later that week! We have met more people and made new contacts in this otherwise overwhelmingly huge city. We’ve attended drinks (several times), dinner (twice), a Hillsong party (amazing. they rented out an entire bowling alley/ 2-story bar and maxed out its occupancy), a birthday party (South African braai!), and a clothes swap with tea and cakes (just the girls).

These people are completely open with their hearts, homes, experiences, contacts, and calendars. It makes me wonder why we tend to be so guarded in our relationships and friendships. It seems to me (looking back) that I would almost expect people to prove their worth–jump through a few hoops at least–then I would take the time to invest in them. Not these people. You want a look at first century church… it is here. And it is beautiful. And humbling. It will absolutely bring you to your knees when you witness giving, sharing, and generosity at someone else’s expense (making cupcakes from scratch just for you; going out of his way to include you in his birthday party; journeying across town to meet you just because you’re new and don’t know the area; making a special trip to the store to be sure they have enough — for you).

We find ourselves, in the still darkness of night, asking, “Why do they do it? Why do they give and give and give and then give some more? Have they never been burned? Do they not end up with crushed expectations? Is there ever a return on their investment?” {If I’m honest, I’m still trying to figure out how they do it without being constantly disappointed, constantly heart-broken over people and things that didn’t turn out the way they thought.} I know why they do it. I know it’s because the love of Jesus in them runs over into the lives of others.

Here’s another happy surprise: knowing that His love spills over and being the recipient of that love are two entirely different things. Wow. Blown away is an understatement.

We’re adjusting quite nicely and I have to admit, at least 95% of that has to be because some sweet, real, authentic, raw, un-churched church people decided to take us under their wing and share their world with a couple of strangers who, honestly, may not even be here a year from now… which makes their commitment to us all the more dear. How do they do it? I’m amazed {and am learning MUCH about myself and my motives and my heart}. London and God’s grace is treating us well. Thank God for Hillsong London. Seriously.

God has done great things for us and we are filled with joy! {Ps 126:3}

Daily Life Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from an email I recently sent out. I think it just about sums up daily life (at least at first).

As for daily life, things have been surprising. London, for being a world power and the seat of Europe’s academic and financial business, can seem like basically a third world country when it comes to customer service (none), processing paperwork (weeks and it may have to be restarted), finding a place to live (a fanatical, fear-driven “get-what-you-can-when-you-can” supply/ demand), and standard of living (crazy expensive plus the unfavorable exchange rate).

There have been plenty of frustrations–many of which, yes, would be the case no matter where in the world we were living because moving is a huge and incredible headache; some of which are completely unique to London life.

But really and truly, that is to be expected and God has been gracious with us and the transition: we didn’t lose any luggage, we found a flat and moved in within one week of landing, we have bank accounts set up with access to our money in pounds, our flat is cheery with lots of light, our flat included all kitchen accessories (cutlery, plates, glasses, and basic cookware), we ended up living less than 1/2 a mile from our friends Claude and Mary Elizabeth (KD with me at UGA!)… the list goes on and on and on.

Great is His faithfulness.

Flat 2: First Night

So here’s a quick vid of our new flat. It is a very rough cut of a very rough “before” apartment, but I just didn’t want to forget what moving REALLY looks like 😉 And I have no shame, so I decided to share it with you all, too. Move-in date: 24 August 2011. Tomorrow marks one week.
A few things about this video:
1. Notice the Coke–in our hearts, no, we have not left Atlanta 😉
2. Notice the music. We’re an eclectic pair (Counting Crows and Brad Paisley. Impressive, I know).
3. Notice the “neutral” color palate {read: apparently, completely white-washing everything makes it “neutral”}
4. Notice the incredibly attractive tall man. I kinda love him a lot.
5. To answer your question: No, I have not yet figured out the washing machine. Nor have I attempted another load of laundry since. Pity the kind and very patient tall man.
There will be pics of the “after” coming soon. Bear with me and my slow/ spotty internet connection.

London Life

Life is busy but oh so good. We just got done with church: Hillsong London. The worship is amazing and I think we may have found our church home here. At least for now. 

Pics are hard to share because I’ve used up my allocated Internet usage for the MONTH on my phone and we won’t have Internet at our flat until MID-September…! But I’ll do my best to show you the before and after of our little place as soon as I can!

Life is so different here, but were taking each day and every experience as a gift from God to learn more about this curious little corner of the globe. Historically speaking, so much of the American government, mindset, and Anglican/ Episcopal church came from over here, there is MUCH to learn and observe… And were not even in school yet!

London with its 13 million people is truly a melting pot of language, culture, religion, philosophy, color, and ideas. It’s all fascinating really–if you hold it up to the light and look at it from the right perspective: Choosing joy and embracing the little daily difficulties with a smile, knowing that our lives are being changed and molded by each of them in great and tiny ways that we may never know but will forever appreciate. 

Life is so good and God is so faithful. What more could one ask for??